Polio Programme and National EPI develop innovative approach to drive COVID-19 and polio vaccination together.

ISLAMABAD, 08 December 2021 – The fourth National Immunisation campaign will reach across the nation to vaccinate more than 40 million children under five in 156 districts. The three-day campaign will begin on 10 December in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and on 13 December in other parts of the country.

During the campaign, children will receive a supplementary dose of Vitamin A capsule along with the Polio vaccine. The Polio programme will also facilitate the process of COVID-19 vaccination in collaboration with the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and the National Command Operations Center (NCOC) during the campaign. Children from 12-18 years old will receive the Pfizer vaccine, while Sino-Vac will be administrated for the 18 plus population in 31 high-risk districts identified by the NCOC. The NCOC and Health Expert Committee have already approved both vaccines.

"The current gains demand substantial and sustained efforts to further boost the progress achieved over the years towards polio eradication.  The programme will reach every eligible child with the polio vaccine to solidify this progress. Parents should open their doors to polio workers and vaccinate their children to ensure their safety," said Dr Faisal Sultan, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Health, on the launch of the Polio Immunisation campaign.

Dr. Sultan added “after protecting their precious children under 5 from polio, the parents and all children over 12 years should then go to one of the more than thirteen thousand temporary vaccine sites for vaccination and protection of themselves against the COVID-19 disease.”

More than 290,000 frontline health workers will go house to house for vaccination ensuring children's protection from the deadly poliovirus.  Among other health issues, unfortunately, more than 50% of children in Pakistan are Vitamin-A deficient, which exposes them to various other diseases, including diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles, and night blindness. Adding the dose of Vitamin-A in the immunisation campaign contributes to improving the immunity of these vulnerable children.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries left with the poliovirus. Unvaccinated children on both sides of the border are at imminent risk.

"We are aware of the risks of cross-border circulation of the virus between the two countries and we are now focused more on further strengthening our robust mechanisms and strategies to address the issue," said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative. "The programme will ensure the upcoming immunisation campaign achieves all its targets while also taking steps to monitor cross-border movement and enhancing security for health workers in high-risk areas, as well as supporting the COVID vaccination drive," he added.

The Polio programme has successfully completed three high-quality national campaigns, each reaching more than 40 million children under-five with lifesaving vaccines during 2021. The programme also facilitated a recently concluded measles-rubella campaign where more than 90 million children were vaccinated against measles and rubella.

The toll-free Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Polio Helpline 0346-777-65-46 assist parents and caregivers by providing information about vaccines and campaign information.

For more information, visit our website - https://www.endpolio.com.pk



For further information, please contact:

Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC, 0345-9165937

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